Press Reports (2000)

Vishal Kapoor Making It Big

Mid-Day : October 2000

When Vishal Kapoor lifted the Under-17 national squash title at the National Championships held at Chennai recently, it was the culmination of a year’s hard work.  Though the 16-year-old is a trifle embarrassed when the conversation veers towards his commitment to the sport, the fact remains that a year ago he had pasted a sticker inside of his bedroom locker which read: ‘National champion 2000, Vishal Kapoor.’ 

Vishal, who won his first national title in the under-14 category, trained hard at the Otters Club to stamp his domination in the under-17 category.  The inspiration and impetus to excel came from a squash-crazy family, comprising father Gopal Kapoor, mother Roma Kapoor and elder brother Mihir Kapoor. 

While Gopal Kapoor was restricted to playing inter-club squash, Roma Kapoor (nee Thakur) was Mumbai’s No.1 player in 1976.  brother Mihir Kapoor was a member of the Asia junior and world junior U-19 squads this year and also finished runners-up to Bikram Uberoi in the Under-19 national last year.  Coming from a ‘squash family’, so to say, Vishal took up the game competitively when he was 12, while still at Doon School.  Also good in athletics, Vishal, along with brother Mihir, put in extra time to play squash.

They woke up at 5 am for practice, just to cope with the progress of their counterparts in Mumbai and ensured a high level of fitness, thanks to the road running in the high altitude.  Not content with only squash, Vishal then turned to yoga, passing the dvitiyik level with grade B.  However, the lack of importance attached to squash at Doon School forced both brothers to leave and return to Mumbai. 

Mihir had completed his 11th standard while Vishal had finished his 10th.  Since they resided close to the Otters Club, they could play squash to their heart’s content and success was bound to follow.  Besides getting his second national crown, this year brought great results for Vishal.  He won the Under-17 title at Singapore in August, where he was seeded among the top five.  Then followed a tournament in Hong, Kong where top-seeded Vishal finished third.  At home, Vishal won the Under-17 title at the Otters Club Open and finished runners-up in both the U-17 and U-19 at the junior Indian Open.

Besides coach Poncha, Vishal owes a major part of his success to fitness trainer Dr. Nitin Chodda.  Training at the Otters Club gym under Dr. Chodda has improved his fitness and strength levels a great deal, giving him an added advantage over other players in his age group, he says.  The youngster also owes a lot to his principal, Mr. Ajwani, and sports professor P.K.Singh at H.R.College, which has been very supportive in terms of granting him leave to travel and continue with squash seriously.  Vishal’ s immediate aim is to excel at the Asian Junior Championships, to be held in February next year in Chennai.  Vishal holds no pretensions about making a career out of squash, but till he is at it, he will spare no efforts.  Behind this determination is the all-out support from his parents, who exhort him to ‘bash on regardless’.


TIMES OF INDIA                                                                 29-07-2000

Naishadh and Lalwani and Ishaan Patol Balvani are proud owners of trophies they won at the recently concluded Fuji Film Hong Kong Junior Squash Open. They may not have won the title, but the fact that they featured somewhere on the top is consolation enough for the two in their first major overseas tournament.

Both Naishadh and Ishaan had an easy run to the semis in the boys U-11 category, but lost momentum there on. Naishadh the second seed, who till then was playing good squash, buckled under the pressure exerted by third seed Marcos Phua from Singapore to lose 8-10, 5-9, 9-0, 9-2. “I was disappointed with my loss in the semi-finals after having played well till then,” says Naishadh, who studies in Cathedral and John Connon School.

Ishaan had a surprise in store for him when he returned to his school, Bombay Scottish, after the tourney. “I went with the trophy to the principal, and he asked me whether he could keep it for a day,” says Ishaan, who was a little reluctant to part with his prized possession. “The next day I was called in the seniors assemble and handed over the trophy by the principal,” says an elated Ishaan. It is encouragement and appreciation of this sort from seniors that boosts the confidence level of the youngsters.

For a lad who started playing tennis, it is rather strange that squash has taken priority. Ishaan, who began playing tennis, at the age of six and who also plays for the Willingdon Catholic Gymkhana, switched over to squash only nine months ago and is enjoying every moment of it. 

Eleven-year-old Naishadh took a liking for squash at the age of nine. “Then I only learnt how to hold the racket and play some shots,” he says adding, “I took a serious liking for the game only last year”. He practices at the Otters  Club, Bandra , on Saturday’s and Sundays and on weekdays he is at the glass-backed CCI courts between 4 and 8 pm after school.

Naishad now wants to participate in the Nationals U-11, which will be held in Chennai sometime in October, if they have that category. “I will have to work had if I will have to participate in the U-13 category,” he says. “Besides I will have to take permission form my school. I hope they allow me.” 

As of now, both will be participating in the forthcoming Otters Open from August 14-19.


 MID-DAY                                                                            27-06-2000

Brick by brick, the Mumbai palace of squash has come up in the last tow decades. There is no other city in India where the competition, level of interest and most importantly, the results stand out by a mile.  As a famous jockey suggested after he had won a major race, “Daylight was second.”

Looking back, the Mumbai charge began with Anil Nayar, the only Indian to have won the Drysdale Cup in 1965. This was regarded as the unofficial world junior Under-19 title. Nayar’s exploits have been written about  many a time. He had good company in his heydays with Dinshaw Pandole, Fali Madon and the evergreen Deepika Chandratreya who is still going strong. 

Taking up the baton from this select company were the likes of Ananth Nayak, Nikhil Daruvala, Adrian Ezra, Paul Fererria, Rishad Billimoria, Shondip Ghosh, Rohan Bhappu, Akhil Behl and Manish Chotrani. The flow of National champions continues, at sub-junior, junior and senior levels.

The number of tournaments has increased substantially. The Cricket Club of India and the Bombay Gymkhana still host major events, but they have been joined by Otters, Willingdon, Khar Gymkhana, Navi Mumbai and others. The formation of Indian Squash Professionals has seen 35 new events in the last few years. 

Undoubtedly, the most satisfying achievement is the increase in the number of players and the introduction of several age groups for the juniors.  The coaching aspect has been addressed. Satinder Bajwa and Abdul Shaikh have played a key roles and their input has shown good results.

The Squash Racquets Association of Maharashtra (SRAM) look after the affairs of the game in the state. They have seen good times, bad times, and changing times. Today squash has been recognized by the state government. Plans are at a very advanced stage for the first public courts. New sponsors like Air-India and WMI Cranes have entered and helped push the game forward.

On the international front, the Indian Junior boy’s team, comprising all four boys from Mumbai, defeated Pakistan in the 1993 Asian Championships. Adrian Ezra reached the semifinals of the Asian Juniors at Bahrain in 1987 and later went to Harvard’s “Hall of Fame”. Akhil Behl, Arif Paul, Parth Doshi and Alisha Mashruwalla tasted success internationally. 

The metropolis has staged international events and may have another major one this year. It started with Jahangir and Chris Dittmar playing exhibition matches at the CCI in 1990, went a stage further with the 1992 Asian Ladies Championships and for the next four years the Mahindra International held the spotlight.

That in a nutshell, is what has happened in Mumbai squash during the last two decades and a bit. It’s been an era where champion players have at times had to deal with champion officials. But that is part of the game. At times there has to be let, at times there has to be a no-let, and at times there is need for a stroke.  As we look ahead , there is a clear message from the state’s ruling body. “People who play in glass courts should not throw rackets”.

SRAM  peeved with National Body


FREE PRESS JOURNAL                                                                      23/06/2000

MUMBAI : The Squash Racquets Association of Maharashtra (SRAM) on Thursday charged its parent body of putting a spoke in the wheel of its endeavor to promote squash in a big way in the state and of being inconsiderable, reports PTI.

“The SRAM finds itself  in a predicament. While it has set out to promote squash in a big way, it finds the ruling body of the sport in the country, the Squash Racquets Federation of India (SRFI) putting a spoke in the wheel of its progress,” SRAM secretary Mahendra Agarwal stated in the release here.

“The SRAM, which functions transparently and has initiated various schemes to boost the sport, feels it is being stopped in its tracks by an inconsiderable parent body headed by N. Ramchandran, secretary general, SRFI,”  he said.

SRAM  president Khalid Ansari said that  as a result of this needless imbroglio top junior players, especially in Maharashtra, are forced to pay a heavy price.

Ansari alleged that the SRAM’s voting rights were cancelled simply because the state body were late in paying the annual fees of Rs. 2,500.

“As such this only was an excuse to deprive the SRAM of their right and a chance for Ramchandran to be elected unopposed in the forthcoming elections of the SRFI. The Squash Racquets  Association of Delhi (SRAD) had suffered a similar fate,” charged Ansari.

“Moreover, many of our players are studying in America. They had informed the SRFI of their availability for the national junior and senior teams. But none of them were given a chance to play the selections,” Agarwal alleged.

Agarwal said that the SRFI doled out excuses ranging from ‘they did not participate in the National’s to ‘if Cyrus Poncha (Mumbai-based, SRFI-appointed coach) agrees, their case would be considered’, for not selecting players based outside India.

“In the process relatively weak teams are going to the Asian Senior Championship scheduled to be held  in Hong Kong from July 5-12 and the World Junior Boys Championship in Milan from July 15-29,” Agarwal claimed.

He also said that its problems with SRFI existed not only with team selections but also in making draws of tournaments, seedings and changing the year’s calendar.

Agarwal also charged the parent body of ignoring its own notification that all entries outside the state be routed  through the state association. “Players began contacting SRFI directly and when this was brought to SRFI’s notice there was no response from them,” he added.

Agarwal also alleged that the SRAM’s attempt to host the Indian Squash Open in January this year was scuttled by the SRFI and another bid to host the 2000 World Women’s Championship in Mumbai has been kept in cold storage.

Pointing out that as per the rules of the world body the bid has to be made through the national body, Agarwal said that the SRFI had asked for guarantees and one of these was for a royalty to be paid to the SRFI prior to the event when the amount would be determined by it

"This is not infighting. Tt's simply fighting. It's simply fighting for out rights," Ansari explained.


ASIAN AGE                                                                           22-06-2000

MUMBAI: The Squash Racquets Association of Maharashtra has stripped Sarvesh Chauhan of Jindal Recreation Club of the runners-up position in the under-13 age group of the Air-India Satellite Squash tournament held between September, 1999 and February 2000. The decision was taken by SRAM’s executive committee after careful consideration of all relevant facts and to serve as an example to other junior players who might consider misrepresenting their age when participating in tournaments conducted under its aegis, according to a SRAM’s  press release on Wednesday.


 TIMES OF INDIA                                                    21/06/2000

Sarvesh  Chauhan of Jindal Recreation Club was stripped of his runner-up position in the under 13 section of the Air-India Satellite squash tournament held between September 1999 and February 2000, according to a release from the Squash Racquets Association of Maharashtra. However, the executive committee has refrained from a complete ban on Sarvesh.


 MID-DAY                                                               21-06-2000

Akhil Behl, Parth Doshi, Gaurav Juneja, Rohan Bhappu, Abhijit Kukreja, Sohini Kumari and Joshna Chinappa have a common grouse.  Their track record at home and abroad has been ignored by the national body, the Squash Rackets Federation of India (SRFI).  None of them find a place in the squads bound for the Asian Seniors Championships at Hong Kong ( July 5-12) or the World Senior Boys Championships at Milan (July 15-29)

The SRFI’s excuse about them not playing the nationals is an eyewash.  Surely the nationals should be to send the best team and to take into account the whole year’s performance rather than that in one event. Sohini Kumari had a broken ankle and was forced to miss the nationals. She would have walked into the team, probably at number two but the powers-that-be have other thoughts. 

Joshna Chinappa has been a victim of the power politics that has ruined Indian squash . She was not allowed to play the Asian Squash Federation Invitation Grand Finals in Chennai because of some flimsy excuse pf the parent body deciding on those who would be eligible. Results don’t seem to count. Instead, the SRFI seem to have found a shoulder to fire a bullet from. “If coach Cyrus Poncha agrees, we shall go by his recommendation”. So if a player happens to be out of favour with Poncha, it is left to one’s imagination of whether he or she would be in the lost of probables.

It was interesting to read that Poncha was close to tears in Kuala Lumpur when his ward Vaidehi Reddy lost to Joshna Chinappa in the under 15 final of the Malaysian Junior Open. Even at this stage, the SRFI had a chance to redeem the situation and include the 14 year-old champion but that was not to be.

To make things worse, she has been told to attend  another conditioning camp in Chennai before she leaves for the Australian Junior Open Imagine having to come back from Singapore for four days to be at a camp when the need of the house would be to fly direct to Australia and get used to the conditions. Hang your head in shame, SRFI.

Another classic case in that of Abhijit Kukreja who was left out of Abhijit Kukreja who was left out of the junior selections because Poncha apparently did not want him in. Kukreja along with Behl, Bhappu, Doshi and the Junejas are studying in America and had told the SRFI they were available to play for India. There is a pride in donning the country’s colours and all the above mentioned have done by the political maze that exists back home.

In this ridiculous state of affairs at the national squash level ever going to change? How about SRFI chief honcho Randhawa? Surely he cannot be a mere rubber stamp!


FREE PRESS JOURNAL                                                            21/06/2000

MUMBAI: The Squash Racquets Association of Maharashtra  executive committee has stripped Sarvesh Chauhan of Jindal Recreation Club of the runner-up position in the under-13 section of the Air India Satellite Squash Tournament held between September last year and February 2000

The Jindal RC player is the second from that club to have been caught participating in a lower age group.

The runner-up position was awarded to Jay Bhagat.

The decision by SRAM committee had the option of banning Sarvesh from participating in tournaments in the State but decided against the extreme step in view of the defaulter’s young age.


 MID-DAY                                                                                         21/06/2000
MUMBAI : The Executive Committee of the Squash Racquets Association of Maharashtra has stripped Sarvesh Chauhan of Jindal Recreation Club of the runner-up position in the U-13 age group of the Air-India Satellite Squash tournament held between September, 1999 and February 2000.

The decision was taken after careful consideration of all relevant facts and to serve as an example to other junior players who might consider misrepresenting their agis of SRAM, according to secretary Mahendra Agarwal.  The committee was considering banning Sarvesh from participating in tournaments in Maharashtra but decided against this extreme step in view of his young age.  This is the second occasion when a player from the Jindal Recreation Club participated in a lower age a group, despite a warning from the SRAM. As a result of this action, Jay Bhagat has been awarded the runner-up position.




MID-DAY SPORTS                                                                   22-06-2000

Several Maharashtra players have reason to feel aggrieved at the manner in which they have been treated by the Squash Racquets Federation of India (SRFI). National champion Adrian Ezra, Manish Chotrani, Akhil Bhel , Arif Paul and Parth Doshi head the list of sufferers, Gaurav and Roshan  Juneja, Abhijit Kukreja and Rohan Bhappu have similar experiences.

The problems exist with team selections, making draws at events, seedings and changing the year’s calendar as and when the SRFI have wished.

In May this year. Otters Club were granted permission to hold an event.  They had bypassed the Squash Racquets Association of Maharashtra (SRAM) and were given the status of “a separate entity”. This was in total variance to what had happened  in earlier years where the state association

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